Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Let me preface this (for those of you who haven't been following my blog) by saying that I have a rewards system in place for completing 30-day, 180-day, and 365-day streaks of my daily goals. You can read more about it here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
So we went to a buffet restaurant tonight. Although they list their nutrition info online, I didn't want to figure out what I was going to eat based on that info and then arrive and find that they only had some of the food listed on the site (because there was tons of food listed on the site). I decided to just estimate as I went along. Bad idea. I had 400 calories left to get into my range, or 750 to get to the top of my range. I estimated what I ate to be at 450 calories. I was super proud of myself, too, because I controlled my portions and had a nice mix of healthy foods with not-so-healthy-but-I-can-have-it-in-modera
tion foods. But when I came home, I discovered that I had consumed 803 calories. WHAT?!?!? Seeing that number made me sick to my stomach. I felt like I had made good choices, only to discover that my estimation skills were super lacking and they resulted in overconsumption.
So this brings me to a topic I've been thinking about lately. And the way that I ended up going over my calories--having made what I thought were wise choices--cements my decision to do this. And what is "this", you might ask? I'm going to allow myself a couple of flex days in my goal streaks. Here is how it will work: within a 30-day streak, I'm allowed 1 day of failure to meet my goal without the streak being broken. Within a 180-day streak, I'm allowed 2 days of failure to meet my goal without the streak being broken (that includes the 1 day from the 30-day streak, if it's taken). And within a 365-day streak, I'm allowed 3 days of failure to meet my goal without the streak being broken (again, that 3 days includes any days that were taken during the previous portions of the streak).
This may come across as me being lazy or greedy to get my streaks without the work. The real purpose of it, though, is to help break my perfectionistic tendencies while still pushing to do my best. It's to break the black-and-white, all-or-nothing, dichotomous thinking that goes on in the perfectionist's head. It's to allow for "life"...sometimes life just happens, and despite our best efforts, we are unable to meet our goals for that day. I would be absolutely devastated if today happened and I didn't have flex days built into my program. Because I watched my calories all day and ate right and made the best choices I knew how at the restaurant, I feel that I met my goal in the sense that I did everything right to the best of my ability.
As it is, this will hurt me enough in that I will not earn 3 "flower points" in the BLC as a result of today's failure (and yes, the perfectionist in me was dying to earn a perfect score for the whole challenge), as well as the fact that I'm now 400 more calories away from losing another pound. No sense in kicking myself while I'm down!
So I'm curious: what are everyone's thoughts on the flex days? Do you think it's a great idea? A terrible one? Something in between?
Monday, April 23, 2012
Dearest future Ashleigh,
You've made it! You not only survived the 8-week Biggest Loser Challenge, but you *thrived* during it. Look at you go!
Although it's only been 8 short weeks, the changes are remarkable. At the beginning, you could only do 52 crunches and 22 knee pushups in a minute. Now, you can do at least 60 crunches and 30 knee pushups in a minute! It took you more than 17 minutes to walk/jog a mile (which was a new record even then), but now you can do it in under 16! You completed a 5k back in May in less than an hour, even though at one point you thought you'd be pushing it to get it done in 75 minutes! Your resting heart rate has dropped even more, going beyond the 18 bpm it had already dropped by the time you started this challenge. You've lost inches--everywhere. Your body is changing. *You* are changing.
Your determination, perfectionism, awesome teammates, and competitiveness helped drive you to succeed. So what did you do to have made all these great changes?
--You drank at least 12 cups of water every day. EVERY day.
--You ate at least 3 servings of fruits and veggies every day. EVERY day.
--You stayed within your calorie range every day, even though it kept decreasing throughout the challenge until it got to 1200-1550.
--You did at least 3 body weight exercises a night and/or did a strength training video off the internet. EVERY night.
--You trained for a 5k 3 days a week. When the 5k was completed, you continued walking a 5k on your own 3 days a week.
--You walked (or walk/jogged) a mile every day that you didn't train for the 5k.
--You met your goal of steps walked every day. EVERY day. It started at 5,500, but kept going up each time you had 7 consecutive successful days.
--You completed all the mini-challenges offered during the Biggest Loser Challenge.
--You cheered on and encouraged your teammates by checking in to the SparkTeam daily and reading their blogs as posted.
--You did all of the above for several reasons. You didn't want to let your team down by having poor results. You didn't want to let *yourself* down by not doing what is necessary to live a healthier life. And, of course, it helped that you have a reward system in place for 30-, 180-, and 365-day streaks of all of the fitness and food goals. You earned several 30-day rewards during the challenge, and are now well on your way to getting 180-day rewards!
Ashleigh, simply put, you are awesome. You were a beautiful person 8 weeks ago, but your beauty is blooming even more now. You radiate with happiness as your body starts to reflect the healthy person you are on the inside. Be proud of yourself. You know what? Even if you stumbled and failed to meet some of your goals as consistently as you wanted, STILL be proud of yourself. You completed the challenge! You didn't give up! You are STILL on the right track to living a healthier life!
I love you, Ashleigh. And that's why you did this challenge. I recognized that you *deserve* to be healthy. Past you is proud of future you. Don't be afraid to shout your successes from the rooftops! You've earned it.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Something that a SparkPeople member said to me yesterday clicked in my mind. I don't recall exactly what was said, but what I took from it was that we need to make sure we maintain a balance in our lives. This is something that I've known, and even somewhere in the back of my mind I think I was realizing it's been a problem lately, but it took until yesterday for it to click. This turned out to be perfect timing. See, my schoolwork has suffered considerably because of my pursuit of health (seriously--going into this semester I had a 3.803 GPA, but my grades this semester will be A, B, C, and F!). Today, I had a 10-page paper due that could get me the only A I have a chance to receive this semester. The realization that I needed to restore balance in my life cost me two streaks that I've been working on (exercise and fruit/veggie consumption), a training day for the 5k, time that kind of needed to be spent cooking batch meals, and 6 hours of precious sleep. That's a lot to sacrifice, and I'm definitely not saying I'm going to make a habit of that. But in this particular instance, I did what I needed to do to salvage one of my grades: my paper was completed at 4:00 this morning (and it's a pretty good paper, if I do say so myself).
It is frustrating to have to start 3 streaks over again (not only did I break the 2 streaks mentioned above, but I completely forgot to take my pedometer with me to work and school, so I had no idea how many additional steps I needed to get last night, and with having to research and write my paper, I just counted the day as a wash). Everything in me wants to devote every waking second to this pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. I know that's not sustainable in the long run, though. Yesterday was a hard but important lesson to learn. Time management, something that I only began to master over the past year or so, is something that I will now have to work even harder at, since cooking, exercising, and tracking food/exercise all take time. So it's time for me to take the reins of my life and get organized.
My schedule is a bit wonky for the next couple of weeks as school wraps up, and I think I will have enough free time that I can continue to devote a chunk of it to my health goals. But after the semester is over, I have a lot to do. I'm going to commit, right here and now, to spending time during finals week organizing my time and life so that my summer can go smoothly. Developing better health is definitely important for my future. But getting accepted into graduate school is just as important! It is upsetting that I let my grades slide so badly this semester. But at this point, the only thing I can do is finish the semester strong, and then spend my summer wisely.
Monday, April 16, 2012
My dad mentioned something today, and it's something that'd been nagging at the back of my mind. He commented that I've been adding a lot more to my weight loss program a lot more quickly than he expected. And he's right. My original plan was to incorporate things in very slowly--take baby steps all the way. I wanted to add one new lifestyle change, or maybe two, and then once they became habit, I could incorporate new things. It sounded perfect. Lifestyle changes, fitness, health, and weight loss--all the easy way. And the important part--it would all be sustainable.
So what happened? I started out with several baby steps. Already, that's more than I had planned. Then I kept adding more and more. "I'm not going to count calories because I think that means I won't get to eat much" became "let's count calories AND stay within the range set for me", and that was on the first day! "Drink more water" became "get at least 8 cups a day in" within a mere three days! And since then it has turned into "drink at least 12 cups a day". "Run a 5k by August 2013" became "walk a 5k first, before running it" became "ZomgLet'sDoItNow" became "ZomgLet'sDoItNowANDDoItAsFastAsHumanlyPos
sible". I'm even (only slightly) toying with the idea of getting a personal trainer. And on and on it goes. Sure, some things are still in baby step mode (I'm only taking the stairs up one flight in each building and then taking the elevator, instead of taking the stairs everywhere; I'm only eating 3 servings of fruits and veggies a day; I'm only doing some pseudo-strength training so far--3 body-weight or dumbbell exercises a day; I'm still avoiding the gym; etc). But holy crap on a stick I'm doing so much so fast!
The problem? My personality. I'm naturally driven. I'm (sometimes) an overachiever. I'm a perfectionist. When I do things, I generally give it my all. So why is that a problem? Well, when it comes to health/weight loss, I've always jumped in headfirst, gone super hardcore with calorie restrictions and intense workouts at the gym, and then burned out in 2-3 months. Those things simply aren't sustainable for the long term, especially when you're not used to them.
So what now? I feel like I've opened a pandora's box. I've awakened something in me that can't be quieted. I think it may be too late to return to my original plan. I can increase the intensity of things in my program slowly, but I can't cut back on what I'm already doing. I certainly feel driven now. Something in me feels like this time is different, like I'm going to succeed this time. It's intangible, something I can't quite describe. Perhaps what another sparker called me the other day is the right word for it: I feel determined. But I can't help but have fear. This fear nags at me quite a bit, although I often try to ignore it. I fear that what I'm doing won't be sustainable. I fear that my enthusiasm will eventually wane and I'll slowly give up. I fear, I fear, I fear.
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